Russia may possibly be ruled today by people “with a greater propensity to violence than the aged leadership of the final days of the Soviet Union” as Lilia Shevtsova has noted, although there is little evidence of this. But both the leaders of the Soviet Union during its final days and Russia today are clearly ruled by people with a far lesser propensity to violence, against both their own and foreign citizens, that the recent and current regimes of the US and many of its allies, which is currently engaged in wars, occupations, and “shadow conflicts” in a dozen countries around the world.
As for Freedom House, first, it is oxymoronic to call them a NGO (non-governmental organization) when they receive the bulk of their funding from the US government and most of their directors are former US government officials. Second, its “expert-based” evaluations have been regularly criticized by academics for a completely subjective and systematically biased methodology. Third, to pay any credence or grant any legitimacy on the subjects of “freedom and democracy” to an organization whose directors and board members have systemically included a host of war-mongering neoconservatives and American Exceptionalists like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Zbigniew Brzezinski is an exercise in the absurd.
Far more credible and objective academic and fair-minded assessments of political systems exist such as Polity IV and the Karlin Freedom Index – but these are ignored by the Western MSM because they don’t meet their sensationalist, propaganda, and narrative purposes. Freedom House’s jingoistic blathering and demonizing shouldn’t have any real effect on US policymakers – as their propaganda mouthpiece, it already reflects their own opinions – unless they are starting to believe their own propaganda, that is …
The famed US philosopher and professor of linguistics at MIT, Noam Chomsky summed up Freedom House in his 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: A Propaganda Model: “Freedom House, which dates back to the early I940s, has had interlocks with AIM, the World Anticommunist League, Resistance International, and U.S. government bodies such as Radio Free Europe and the CIA, and has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the government and international right wing.”
Recent statements by the departing US Secretary of State and likely 2016 Presidential contender Hillary Clinton characterizing the Russian-led Eurasian regional economic integration process as “a move to re-Sovietize the region” that the US is trying to prevent are both factually incorrect and embarrassing, as well as a dangerous retreat into Cold War rhetoric and mentality. If such claims are taken seriously, then we might just as well speak of the EU as the “re-Nazification” of Europe, NAFTA as a return to the policies of Manifest Destiny, and APEC as a rejuvenation of the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The Russian government should rightly regard these attacks, against Russia’s current foreign policy priority, as both a serious security threat and an unacceptable interference into the sovereign affairs of Russia and all involved states. After this, there remains no question that the so-called “reset” is over and that a new Cold War has been declared to take its place in US policy toward Russia, whatever pretense is played out in public.
Thus it would be folly for Russia to return to a policy of accepting the political interference or take policy consideration of US government funded GONGOS (government organized “non-governmental” organizations) like Freedom House in its sovereign domestic affairs. A state cannot be “granted” recognition of its “sovereignty” by a cessation of attacks on its sovereignty. That is blackmail. Russia’s sovereignty and the sacrosanctity of its domestic political processes are guaranteed, as all states are, under international law and the UN Charter.
The US regime’s and its “NGO” propaganda instruments’ rhetoric about human rights, democracy, and civil liberties in Russia and elsewhere should properly be regarded as a selective and hypocritical “soft-power” bludgeon of US foreign policy to delegitimize targeted governments in the eyes of the world and their own people. The primary criteria for acceptance by the US are not human rights and democracy, but alignment with and subservience to US foreign policy interests and hegemony. We certainly don’t see the bosom allies of the US in the bloody Saudi, Bahraini, and Qatar despotisms subjected to the same level of criticism and opprobrium as Russia.
Mark Sleboda, Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Department of International Relations and Centre for Conservative Studies, Sociology Faculty, Moscow State University